Repression and Resistance: Week in Protest September 11-17

“Repression and Resistance” is a column from Tribune of the People that highlights rebellions and repression happening in protests across the US each week. If you want us to cover a protest happening in your city, please send us a pitch.

National

This week a memo from the Justice Department was leaked that exposed instructions to federal prosecutors to go as far as sedition charges when it came to cases against some of the more than 14,000 protesters arrested since the police murder of George Floyd in May. The memo clarified that sedition can apply to anyone who opposes the government’s authority by force. A conviction based on a sedition charge can carry up to 20 years in prison.

FBI Director Christopher Wray also testified before Congress this week about the bureau’s investigations into “antifa” extremists. He contradicted Republican descriptions of “antifa” as a domestic terrorist organization, saying it was more of an ideology. “Antifa” as a label has been used by the state as a new “red scare.”

In other national news, a new report has documented more than 100 head injuries caused by police using “less-lethal” ammunition against protesters across the country. The physicians who authored the report speculate that the actual number of life-threatening injuries tied to police brutality at protests this summer is much higher.

Minneapolis, MN

The four former Minneapolis police officers charged in the murder of George Floyd made their first physical court appearance last Friday. Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Keung and Tou Thao appeared for a pre-trial hearing to determine if they would be tried together or separately. Chauvin, who was captured on video pressing his knee into George Floyd’s neck, also appeared in court for charges of tax fraud and evasion. Protesters gathered outside chanting George Floyd’s name and “No Justice! No Peace!”

In other Minneapolis news, the local city council had approved a new location for the Police Department’s Third Precinct, which was burned to the ground during the May Uprising. A protest was organized for this past Wednesday to oppose the new lease being finalized, but the owner of the property backed out after anti-police graffiti was found on the building Monday, as well as threats that it would meet the same fate as its predecessor.

Portland, OR

At the end of last week, following the 100th night of continuous protest in Portland, a memorial was found near the site where a Federal Fugitive Task Force murdered Michael Forest Reinoehl, who gave his life in the defense of the movement for Black Lives. Reinoehl was suspected of killing a Patriot Prayer affiliated fascist at the end of August during a confrontation between protesters and reactionaries.

Louisville, KY

The family of Breonna Taylor, who police murdered on March 13 after barging into her apartment in the middle of the night, won a $12 million settlment on Tuesday with the city of Louisville. The repressive measures by the city government and the state of Kentucky in response to protests for Black Lives have been some of the most extreme in the country.

Los Angeles, CA

Protesters blockaded the entrance and exit of a local emergency room Saturday evening to prevent two deputies from receiving treatment who had been injured in an ambush in Compton, chanting “We hope they die!”

Journalist Josie Huang was tackled to the ground by police as she was trying to document the arrest of another protester when officers moved in to force the crowd to disperse.

Washington, DC

This week, a whistleblower within the Army National Guard informed lawmakers that a top military police officer had requested “heat rays” and “sound cannons” to use against protesters outside the White House during the now infamous June incident when police brutalized protesters so that President Donald Trump could walk to a nearby church for a photo-shoot.

“A.D.S. [Active Denial System, or nonlethal heat ray] can provide our troops a capability they currently do not have,” the officer had written an email that day according to the whistleblower’s testimony. “The A.D.S. can immediately compel an individual to cease threatening behavior or depart through application of a directed energy beam that provides a sensation of intense heat on the surface of the skin. The effect is overwhelming.”

The whistleblower also claimed that “approximately 7,000 rounds” of live ammunition were gathered in anticipation of the protest.

Lancaster, PA

Last weekend, people took to the streets after the police murder of Ricardo Muñoz, whose body was left on the sidewalk for hours. After a large crowd gathered where Ricardo was killed, the protest marched to the local police station, where police defended against projectiles which smashed windows and caused other property damage. Police arrested over a dozen after fires were started nearby.

The district judge set the bails for some protesters at $1 million, but they were later reduced. Many still face felony charges.

Omaha, NE

Bar owner Jake Gardner, who shot and killed black protester James Scurlock during the May Uprising, was indicted on Tuesday by a grand jury on multiple felony charges, including manslaughter, following months of protesters demanding that the case be revisited. The indictment overrides the District Attorney’s June ruling that the murder was justified based on “self-defense.”

James Scurlock

Detroit, MI

A motion by the city of Detroit to lift a temporary restraining order imposed on local police was denied by a district judge this week, who concluded that motion “[lacked] a factual basis.” The order had been issued on September 4 in relation to a lawsuit filed by Detroit Will Breathe, and it bans police from using much of their riot gear as well as tactics like chokeholds.

The city argued that this order had “emboldened” protesters to be more violent, pointing to the spray-painting of a statue of US General Alexander Macomb and a recent incident where people at a restaurant were threatened.

Since the May Uprising, Detroit police officers have faced bottle rockets, lasers, and other projectiles as people have raged in the streets for Black lives.

Pittsburgh, PA

Last Friday, Dannielle Brown, mother of Marquis Jaylen “JB” Brown who died under mysterious circumstance with Duquesne University police present, marched on the 70th day of her hunger strike across Chatham University, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pittsburgh, Carlow University, before finally ending at Duquesne University, which recently just fired a professor for making racist remarks in a classroom. “Don’t ever make this about a race issue. Because in Black Lives Matter and police brutality, there’s Black people committing these crimes too-there’s a problem with policing in America,” Dannielle Brown said. A pro-Trump reactionary came out of the same tower that Jaylen Brown fell to his death from, and was confronted combatively by the crowd, ultimately pushed back inside the building.

During an agitation outside of a “free store” run by the Mayor of Wilkinsburg Marita Garrett that distributes food and other supplies, protesters from Serve the People handed out “Wanted” flyers for Officer Robert Gowans, the police officer who killed Romir Talley.

Austin, TX

Last Sunday, a protest for Black Lives gathered at the memorial for Garrett Foster in downtown Austin. One speaker told “unbiased” media to leave at the beginning, because the protesters didn’t need media that wasn’t on the side of the people. The protest marched to the Capitol and demanded Police Chief Manley be fired, that the police officers who murdered Mike Ramos be prosecuted, and that all charges against protesters be dropped.

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